4-H Happenings, February 2022

A monthly newsletter for Somerset County 4-H Members


Important Dates: 

County News

The New 4-H Newsletter

We are very pleased to present 4-H Happenings, Somerset County’s NEW 4-H newsletter! We have not published a 4-H newsletter in several years, but we have a new office team and will begin publishing 4-H Happenings on a monthly basis. It will be an online newsletter that can be found right here on our website and readers will be able to access an archive to view past issues. Subscribers will receive an email that will include news highlights as well as links to the online articles.

We hope you find this newsletter helpful and informative and encourage you to reach out with any requests or suggestions!

Meet your new 4-H Youth Development Professional!

Karen GilesKaren joined the Somerset county staff in October and is excited to work with all of you. She grew up in Maine working with horses her entire life, first in 4-H and Pony Club, and then as a nationally certified regular and therapeutic riding instructor. She has a BA in Art, with minors in Business Administration and Small Business Management, as well as an AA in Commercial Illustration. She published a children’s book that she wrote and illustrated, and is working on several more. She was previously the Executive Director of the Robotics Institute of Maine and has been the lead mentor of a high school robotics team for the past ten years. She also worked for Maine Farmland Trust in Belfast as their Art Gallery Coordinator. She has a son who recently graduated from UMaine with a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology and owns three horses.

Somerset County Public Speaking Day

March 26, 2022, 9 am-Noon (if there is enough interest)*

Interested in growing your skills in public speaking? 4-H is an awesome place to start! Exciting news- the county event will be held in person (with masks) at Somerset County Extension Office in Skowhegan (subject to change, following University of Maine COVID guidelines). A live Zoom will be available to 4Hers who would like to give their speech virtually on the day of the tournament.

*If there is not enough interest for this county event, there are other options for those individuals who do want to participate at a county or higher level. 

Check out the Public Speaking Guidelines page for the upcoming state and county contests. Depending on your age there are different time limits. This website is a great place to start when you’re putting together a speech. Remember, this is all about trying something new and gaining confidence in your own voice!

  • Cloverbuds (ages 5-8): 3-5 minutes in length
  • Juniors (ages 9-13): 3-8 minutes in length
  • Seniors (ages 14-18): 5-10 minutes in length


  • February 16th: Notify the Somerset County Office of your intent to participate by filling in the Somerset County Public Speaking Day Sign Up Form (Google Form) or emailing 4-H Youth Development Professional Karen Giles at karen.giles@maine.edu. Include your name, 4-H age (age as of January 1st), parent’s name, telephone number, email address, and whether you plan to attend in person or virtually. Include your topic if you know what it will be, or you have until March 11th to let Karen know what it will be so she can put it on the schedule of events.
  • March 11th: Deadline to announce your topic of a Demonstration or Illustrated Talk
  • March 26th: Somerset County 4-H Public Speaking Tournament at Somerset County Extension Office, from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • April 9th: 4-H State Public Speaking at the University of Maine Orono (for those who score 78 and higher at a County or Regional level).

For more information, visit the Public Speaking web page

If you are interested in volunteering for the Somerset County event as a Judge or Time/Score Keeper, please contact 4-H Professional Karen Giles at karen.giles@maine.edu or 207.474.9622.

Alice Leads Food and Nutrition Classes for Somerset County 4-Hers

Baked Apple Dessert

Alice, our EFNEP Community Education Assistant, has been busy leading a number of nutrition programs in the community. Recently, she led a lesson series called CREATE MyPlate for the Groovy Go-Getters 4-H club. During this first class, they talked about MyPlate, fruits, and vegetables, and made different kinds of smoothies. For their last class, they talked about healthy snack choices and created a baked apple dessert.

In January, she led a class called Gifts from the Kitchen for the Solon Pine Tree 4-H club. The youth learned how to make their own mix in a jar and decorate them to give as gifts. Most of this group planned to try out the gingerbread recipe themselves and then refill the jar to display in fairs this summer.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) delivers interactive food and nutrition education to income-eligible parents, caregivers, young adults, teens, and children.

4-H members with homemade baked good mixes in jars

EFNEP is a free program — find out if you are eligible today! You can participate in EFNEP through individual and group lessons in homes or community sites including schools. For more information, email alice.cantrell@maine.edu.


Club News

What Has Your Club Been Doing?

We would love to use this space to share stories directly from clubs. If your club leader or members would like to submit updates or an article for future issues of this newsletter, please email your ideas to emily.collins3@maine.edu. We would love to hear and share what your club has been learning and doing!

State News

Events and Opportunities

4-H For All: Spring 2022

The purpose of this virtual club is to provide new and potential members and their families a place to learn about 4-H and to connect youth across the state. Youth will choose a project to complete and learn more about 4-H and how to become involved. We want you to join and engage in our 4-H program! There is no cost, and meetings will help challenge you to create new goals and discover new passions. Open to youth 5-13, dates will be March 24, April 28, May 26 at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Register on the 4-H For All Club page.

Maine 4-H Virtual Learning Hub

Maine 4-H Virtual Learning is a hands-on, virtual learning program for youth ages 5-18. Workshops will be organized by age and topic. Topics include engineering, science, animals and agriculture, teen leadership, and more.

Workshops will range from single-time events to short-term programs (typically four to six sessions). Participants will engage in hands-on activities, interact with other 4-Hers, and meet positive adult role models.

No prior experience with 4-H is required to participate. This is a great way for those who are interested to learn more about 4-H.

Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF)

We have exciting news! We are now planning for an in-person CWF 2022!  Many things are changing within the programming schedule and event place. As some of you know, the National 4-H Center has been sold or is in the process. Therefore, CWF will no longer be held there but will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda, Maryland.  This event center is not far from where we previously have been, but we will forever miss our own 4-H Center. 

In 2020, CWF was canceled due to the pandemic, and the 2021 program was held virtually. We as a state did not participate in the virtual 2021. We still do, however, have a list of participants that have never been able to go on the trip. This list is currently being contacted to see if they are still enrolled members wanting to participate. Once those numbers have been finalized, we will open up the list to “fill the bus” for 2022. All delegates must be currently enrolled and between 14-18 years old as of January 1, 2022.

We have held records of who in the past has paid monies and are also working that through.  The total cost for this year’s trip will be available very shortly.  A note will be going out to your local office with all information and please note: we will be on a short timeframe to get delegate information in. The date that has been reserved is June 25-July 1, 2022. We will be leaving on a Saturday and coming home on the following Friday. As always in today’s world, all plans are Covid sensitive but as the true 4-Hers that we are, we adapt! If you have questions, please feel free to email Heidi Palmer, State Activities Coordinator at heidi.thuotte@maine.edu.

Maine’s Mysterious Marshlands: Using eDNA to Understand Climate Change

Are you interested in learning more about Maine’s changing climate? Salt marshes have the potential to lessen the impacts of increasing carbon dioxide in our atmosphere! Join University of Maine graduate student, Heather Richard, in exploring Maine’s salt marshes and learn more about how environmental DNA (eDNA) can help us to understand more about the role of this important habitat in our changing world. Hands-on games and demonstrations will give participants an in-depth perspective into the science of eDNA and salt marsh ecology. Youth ages 12 – 18 can register on the 4-H website now to participate in the approximately one-hour workshop on February 23, 2022, at 1:30 pm.  The workshop will take place over zoom; pre-registration is required by February 11, as materials will be shipped to participants’ homes.

Special Events at the Versant Astronomy Center

The Versant Astronomy Center is open at UMaine, welcoming groups as well as individuals.  Their current programming and other information are available on the Versant Astronomy Center website. Some great upcoming events are: 

  • February 5 – Telescopes, Binoculars, and Stargazing – this is a hands-on workshop!
  • February 11 – Science Lecture Series including Melissa Maginnis and Ben King
  • February Public Show – Skywatchers of Africa

Hudson Museum Virtual Lunar New Year Celebration

The University of Maine Hudson Museum in Orono has put together some great resources to help celebrate the Year of the Tiger. Watch a pre-recorded presentation about how Lunar New Year is celebrated. A downloadable instructional packet will have templates, directions, and information on how you can create your own New Year’s decorations to celebrate. The Hudson Museum will offer a limited number of kits to create traditional decorations. These kits will include arts and crafts materials and instructions for their use in the classroom. This event is geared toward elementary and middle school students. To get information on this event or to reserve a kit, please email elliot.bowen@maine.edu, or visit the Hudson Museum website.

Farm Tractor Safety Course

Participants will learn how to handle tractors and equipment safely, how to identify hazards, and how to minimize the chances of accidents. The course is open to all adults and youth interested, but priority will be given to youth ages 14 to 16. This course is required for 14- and 15-year-olds who plan to operate farm equipment for hire on farms other than their own. A Federal Certificate of Training will be issued at the end of the course after successful completion of the written test and driving course and with attendance requirements met. A course is currently being planned for Spring 2022. If interested, please complete the interest form on the Farm Tractor Safety Course page.

Scholarships and Grants

4-H Pitch Project

The Youth Trustees have established a fund to support young entrepreneurs in 4-H. Pitch us your idea for a business and we may fund the start-up idea. Check out the Pitch Project on the Maine 4-H Foundation website.

The Maine App Challenge

Love technology? Here is a chance to put your passion to a purpose and win a scholarship along the way! The Maine App Challenge is an incredible opportunity for Maine middle school and high school students who are 13 years of age and older to create a mobile application with a chance to win a scholarship and other valuable rewards. A series of innovation workshops from the University of Maine Foster Center for Innovation will help you get started! There are three scholarships available for the top mobile apps: $6,000 for first place, $3,000 for second place, and $1,000 for third place.

Other awards include $500 to the high school with the highest participation, tablets to the first 50 completed submissions, a guaranteed internship interview for the top 10 submissions following his/her college sophomore year. Visit the Tyler Technology Maine App Challenge website for more information.

Maine 4-H Foundation Scholarships

The Maine 4-H Foundation is pleased to announce a number of scholarships available to 4-H members. They range in value from $1,000 to $2,500. Donors from around the state have been very generous in supporting our 4-H seniors as they pursue their dreams and aspirations. Scholarships applications are due March 1, 2022, to your county office. Please check out the Maine 4-H Foundation website for more information.

4-H Club Resources

The Norma Hardison Fund has been created to support 4-H club special projects. 4-H Club Creativity Grant application ideas should tie into the 4-H program priorities for Maine, including club and community learning projects, philanthropic projects that engage members in the community supporting 4-H program work, and/or new creative educational ideas. Funds can be requested for amounts up to $200; on a rare occasion, the grant request may be considered for more than $200. Sponsor: Maine 4-H Foundation Youth Trustees in Philanthropy. Application Form is available on the 4-H Service, Innovative Education, and Philanthropy Grants page.

4-H Service, Innovative Education, and Philanthropy Grants

Grant application ideas should tie into the 4-H program priorities for Maine including club and community service learning projects, philanthropic projects that engage members in the community supporting 4-H program work, and/or new creative educational ideas. Funds can be requested for amounts from $100 to $500; on a rare occasion, the grant request may be considered for more than $500. Sponsor: Maine 4-H Foundation Youth Trustees in Philanthropy. Application Form is available on the 4-H Service, Innovative Education, and Philanthropy Grants page.

Contests and Competitions

Maine 4-H Dairy Quizbowl Tryouts

The 2022 Maine 4-H Dairy Quizbowl tryouts will be held in person on February 26th at the Randall Student Center at the University of Maine Augusta. This event will serve as the official tryout for the Maine 4-H Dairy Quizbowl Team. Those who make the team may have the opportunity to travel in person or compete virtually at a regional competition. 

Maine 4-H Dairy Quizbowl tryouts are open to all enrolled 4-H dairy members ages 9-18. Youth will be divided into two age categories, Jr. ages 9-11 and Sr. ages 12-18. If you plan on attending please notify Sadee Mehuren via email at sadee.mehuren@maine.edu so that we can prepare for the event. Per the University of Maine’s covid guidelines, masks will be required for all attendees. For more information visit the Dairy Quizbowl page.

New Impromptu Category at State Public Speaking Tournament

The Maine 4-H Public Speaking Committee is pleased to announce a new category at the State Tournament in April 2022!

Impromptu” is a fun and exciting category that gives participants the opportunity to practice off-the-cuff presentations. Youth will be given three topics to choose from and then have several minutes to prepare a short presentation for an audience. For this year, Impromptu will be a non-scored category. However, participants can expect to receive feedback from judges and peers. Youth who participate in the Maine 4-H Public Speaking Tournament will also be able to participate in the Impromptu category as a bonus opportunity.

Regional Public Speaking Contest

The 2022 Regional Public Speaking Contest will be taking place this year at UMA’s Jewett Hall in Augusta on March 5th.  We are optimistic that this event will be held in person but want to keep flexibility in mind. The event will start at 10:00 a.m. and will run to approximately 3:00 p.m.

We welcome any 4-H member who wishes to join us- from anywhere in Maine!  This event will also be a qualifying event for the State Public Speaking Contest in April.

If you have questions please reach out! To participate, please complete the registration form by February 18.

Public Speaking Workshops

Are you interested in learning more about giving a polished, interesting presentation? The Maine 4-H Communication Science Team members will be leading two workshops in February and March. Workshops are designed to help 4-H members learn new public speaking skills and to prepare for the upcoming state Public Speaking Tournament in April.

Workshops are open to 4-Hers age 9 and up, and will take place on February 16 and March 16 from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., via Zoom.  Contact cathy.gray@maine.edu if you would like to attend this free online workshop.

2022 4-H National Trip Interviews

As in the past, we will be holding interviews for National trips in the early spring. Websites are currently being updated to work towards that same schedule with a date to be announced very soon. At this time, we will be interviewing for National Congress in 2022 and National Conference in 2023. National Conference 2022 which will be held March 20-24, 2022 is currently still being reviewed within our state guidelines due to the Covid travel situation that seems to be strengthening daily. Information will be shared as it becomes available. If you have questions, please feel free to email Heidi Palmer, State Activities Coordinator at heidi.thuotte@maine.edu.

Fairs and Shows

Union Fair – New Dates in 2022

The Union Fair will be happening earlier in the summer, starting this year. The dates for Union Fair 2022 will be July 27-31, about a month earlier than in years past. Please plan accordingly, and check the Union Fair website for updates. Knox-Lincoln Extension staff produce a 4-H Union Fair Information Booklet each year. Once the 2022 pdf document is ready for distribution, it will be shared with all Maine county Extension offices. The booklet will also be available for download on the Knox-Lincoln 4-H website. Questions? Contact cynthia.rogers@maine.edu.

Maine 4-H ESE Sheep Intent Forms are Now Available

The 2022 Maine 4-H Sheep Eastern States intent to participate form is available on the 4-H website. In order to be eligible for participation on the Maine 4-H Sheep Eastern States Team this fall, 4-H members must complete the fillable PDF form or mail a hard copy of the intent form to the Oxford County Cooperative Extension office before April 1, 2022Please contact Sara King at sara.king@maine.edu or 207.342.5971 with any questions.

For Volunteers

Start Your 4-H Volunteer Journey Today

Do you know someone who is thinking about becoming a 4-H volunteer? Or someone you think would make a great 4-H volunteer?  We are looking for people to help youth find their spark and thrive! If so, please encourage them to sign up for Start Your 4-H Volunteer Journey Today! These two one-hour virtual sessions on March 1st and 8th from 7:00-8:00 p.m. will provide initial training and information about 4-H. There will be hands-on activities, opportunities to hear from youth, other volunteers, and more. No pressure to commit, no cost, and no reason to not attend! Invite someone you know to register by February 18th. For more information contact Jen Lobley at jennifer.lobley@maine.edu or 207-255-3345.

4-H Volunteers Register Now!

February 16 * March 16 – 6:30 – 8:30 pm

This year’s Cabin Fever Series for 4-H Volunteers is combining efforts with other states in the Northeast region! The following three topics will be featured in virtual workshops this winter:

  • re-engaging and motivating youth
  • designing captivating and fun activities
  • expanding possibilities for youth to broaden their world 

These workshops will offer a great chance to learn something new, brush up on your skills and connect with 4-H volunteers from across the Northeast! Register now!

Leaders Meeting Minutes

January 26, 2022

Attendance: Lori Swenson, Eleanor Pooler, Karen Giles


  • Tractor Supply Funds: Every county is getting about $850. We need to let them know what our plans are for that. We are interested in providing a hands-on/STEAM-related activity that would reach as many of our members as possible. We would like it to be science-related, such as an animal program (such as Chewonki). We are interested in doing it in the summer when we can be outside and hopefully, covid restrictions have lessened. If there is money left over, we’ll look into other STEAM-related activities. We could also buy 4-H lanyards so the members have somewhere to keep the pins they earn.
  • 4-H Pins Order: We need more pins for 5th years. Karen is going to get us an estimate for what we need and will contact the officers for approval.
  • Fairgrounds Improvements: Eleanor brought Karen Giles to see the 4-H hall. Becky said that the fair would take care of the floor parts of the exhibits. It was discussed to put latticework along the back of the booths on the left side to prevent anyone from falling into the back of the exhibit. The fair is going to look at the roof because there was a puddle on the floor. We will also check with the fair about power washing the inside because of all the cobwebs. It would be nice to do some kind of mural depicting the 4 Hs of 4-H somewhere in the building, maybe on the wall as people first walk in. 
  • Upcoming Events: See the email sent out by Karen today to see specifics. Contact Karen at the extension office if you need more information.
  • Demonstrations/Illustrated talks– These can be live or via Zoom. We might have to stagger the age groups or limit it to one adult per participant.
  • We picked March 26th as our Public Speaking Day (formerly known as Demonstration Day) for Somerset County. We will need to know if there is enough interest in doing it. Members need to contact Karen Giles at the 4-H office by February 16th to let her know that they are interested in doing Public Speaking Day so we can arrange judges etc. They have until March 11th to actually tell her their topics so that a schedule can be created.
  • There will be a regional speaking contest at Jewett Hall at UMaine Augusta that will also count towards allowing them to go to states. All counties can participate even though it’s in Augusta. It is March 5th.
  • Registration for the state competition is March 26th. Members who are interested could sign-up at our Public Speaking Day.

Date for Next Meeting:  Tuesday, February 16th at 6:00 P.M, in person at the SC extension office or by Zoom. RSVP for the Zoom link.